Everything Wrong With Environmentalism In 11 Minutes Or Less

Most people care about the environment…at least enough to say they do on a study, and at least Millinneals at that. And most people have faith that the top environmental agencies in the world are fighting the good fight to remedy the wrongs of humankind, certain that they’re focusing on the core issues with the greatest impact. Well, today we’re going to look at the top issues championed by environmental agencies and the vast majority of environmentalists and see why they’re wrong. So…very…wrong. [tweet this]

Welcome to the first of the “everything wrong with” series. Way back in the day I did a video comparing the effectiveness of all the common “go green” tips to eating a vegan diet. Unfortunately it was before I was very rigorous with citing my sources and I haven’t had time to cobble them back together for that post. So today is a bit of a revamp with new numbers, many even more incredible.

All the citations for every fact I state are notated throughout this text and below. I will also track any errors that I or anyone else finds in this video at the bottom as well.

I will also be far more sarcastic and snarky in this video post but do not mean to say that other environmental issues have no importance. (you have been warned.)

In the video above you’ll see a tally of wrongness (which you’ll see is more of an art than a science) and a timer.  And now…

Everything wrong with environmentalism in 11 minutes or less

[tweet this]


Issue one: climate change

Environmental agencies focus on fossil fuels as the big bad baddy of greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming, suggesting alternative energy, carpooling, hybrid cars, and biking, but animal agriculture accounts for more carbon dioxide per year than all transportation methods combined. [1][2][3]

A conservative 2006 study by the United Nations food and agricultural study placed animal agriculture at 7,516 million tons per year or 18% of annual global green house gas emissions with a far more thorough 2009 WorldWatch Institute study taking into account overlooked livestock respiration, land use, methane and other oversights of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations with the ultimate outcome of at least 32,564 million tons of carbon dioxide per year coming from animal agriculture. That’s 51 percent of all global emissions compared to the 13 percent of all combined transportation. [tweet this]

And what do the environmental agencies point to? Reducing fossil fuel usage.

If we completely stopped all use of gas, oil, fuel, electricity et cetera, and never used them ever again, we would still exceed our carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 565 gigatons by the year 2030 just with the impact of livestock alone. [10][11]

So not using fossil fuels at all, which would be the wet dream of every environmental agency, we’re still gassing out the planet with the one contributor–the main contributor–which they refuse to even address.

In a similar vein, the focus is always almost exclusively on carbon dioxide but methane is 25-100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide [4] and has 86 times the global warming power. [7]

If we do reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as all the organizations call for, it will take around 100 years to see an actual decline, whereas reducing methane shows results almost immediately with significant results within decades. [6][56] So the proposed solutions are even farther from the mark of actual constructive change.

Additionally, livestock is responsible for 65 percent of all emissions of nitrous oxide–a greenhouse gas that has 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years. [8]

Put in comparative terms, your average car produces 3-12 kg/day of carbon dioxide. [16][17] to clear rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger produces 75 kg of carbon dioxide.[16] Eating one pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving your car for more than three weeks. [16]

But is animal agriculture ever mentioned by any of the top environmental organizations or environmentalists in relation to global warming? Nope. They focus on alternative energy when converting to wind and solar power will take 20-plus years and roughly 43 trillion dollars, [52][53] and going vegan takes seconds and can be even cheaper [96] than being non-vegan.


Issue two: water conservation

Environmental protection agencies recommend to use less water, take shorter showers, use a low flow shower head. Now here is where you’ll find the greatest variation from my original calculations based on a 5 gallon per minute shower head. This time around, I found that the typical shower head after 1980 emits 2.5 gallons/minute with the low flow emitting no more than 2galons/minute. [31]

If you take daily 15 minute showers with a low-flow shower head you’ll be saving 2,737.5 gallons per year. If, instead, you forgo one pound of beef one time, you’ll save 2,500 gallons of water [15] for one pound of beef. This is a conservative number as figure range all the way to over 8,000 gallons of water for one pound of beef. [11][32][33][34][35][36]

477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; [35] almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese; [35] and 1,000 gallons/liters of water are required to produce 1 gallon/liter of milk respectively.[37]

Environmental agencies focus almost exclusively on curbing home water usage, but only 5 percent of water consumed in the U.S. is by private homes while 55 percent of water consumed in the U.S. is for animal agriculture, [11][38] and 20-33 percent of all fresh water consumption in the world today. [39][40][41][42] That’s up to a third of the planets water.

If you didn’t consume beef, eggs, milk, or cheese, not even counting other meats or dairy items, based on American consumption habits from 2000 [97] (64.4lbs beef down from 80.9, 250 eggs down from 374, 29.8lbs cheese at an all-time high, and 22.6 gallons milk down from 36.4 galons) and the conservative figures of water per pound, you’d save 222,345 gallons of water that year. (161,000 gallons from beef; 11,925 gallons from eggs using the average weight within egg size variation; 26,820 gallons from cheese; 22,600 gallons from milk.)

But the environmental agencies prefer saving 1,825-2,737.5 gallons a year by using a low flow shower head.

Oh and the trendy little Greek yogurts out there? 90 gallons of water for a single 6 oz. serving. [43] [tweet this]

And one stick of butter takes 109 gallons. [43]

If we added in all forms of dairy and meat for the average American in 2000 (593 pounds dairy down from 703; 195.2 pounds meat at an all time high), which is less dairy and more meat than the data I had for my first video, and use a very conservative average of 1,500 gallons per pound for the remaining meat as each type varies (derived from the average of 552 gallons per pound proposed for chicken and the already conservative 2,500 gallons per pound beef), and an even more conservative 600 gallons for the remaining dairy (derived from the lower average of 436 per pound of butter [43] and 900 gallons per pound of cheese), a vegan year would save approximately 724,925 gallons. (355,800 gallons from dairy; 161,000 gallons from beef; 196,200 gallons from other meats; 11,925 gallons from eggs using the average weight within egg size variation.)

Not only does that blow every water conservation recommendation out of the water, but with the new calculations, forget what I’ve said about not showering in the past–you would have to not shower at all for over 66 years if you took daily 15 minute showers or close to a 100 years if you took daily 10 minute showers, both with a water saving shower head. [tweet this]

And the advice of the supposed environmental champions: shower less, turn off the water while soaping your hands, run your sprinklers at night. Because that’s how we’re going to change the world.


Issue three: fracking (and no, I did not just curse)

Fracking is the new golden child of environmentalists and their leading organizations. Fracking is destroying the planet! It’s polluting the waters!

In the united states alone, fracking uses from 70-140 billion gallons of water. [44] Keep in mind for the big numbers that a thousand seconds is 17 minutes, a million seconds is 12 days, a billion seconds is 31.7 years, and a trillion seconds is 31,709.8 years.

In the United States alone, animal agriculture uses 34-76 trillion gallons of water annually. [45][46]

Taking into account the exponential difference between a billion and a trillion, animal agriculture in the united states consumes anywhere from 486 to over 1,000 times (1,086) more water than fracking, the largest threat to water according to environmentalists. [tweet this]


Issue four: ocean dead zones and over-fishing 

Some of the worst human-created devastation is in our oceans. Three quarter of the world’s fisheries are exploited. [47][48]

90 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. [50]

For every one pound of fish caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.[51]

We could see fishless oceans by 2048. [49]

And what’s suggestion of the major ocean protection organizations? Sustainable fishing.[64] there’s no way to make 100 million tons of fish by 2050 sustainable, especially given the 5 pounds of by-catch for every one pound of fish.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones [30][20][21][18][27] with livestock operations on land having created more than 500 nitrogen-flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans. [11][65]


Issue five: waste management

Environmental agencies focus on industrial waste and the disposal and sanitation of human waste while a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people [29] and it is entirely untreated. [tweet this] In fact, every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US. This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US [22][66][67] and it all has no proper management system leading to ground water and ocean pollution.

Perhaps they don’t want to address the fecal issue because they themselves are full of…moving on.


Issue six: species extinction

10,000 years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals, today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass, with wild animals comprising only 2%. [57]

Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction [87][88], the leading cause of which, as we shall see, is animal agriculture.

We are currently facing the largest mass extinction in 65 million years. [78][79]

According to an interview conducted by Dr. Richard Oppenlander with Dr. Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature species survival commission:

“Habitat loss from grazing livestock and feed crops is far and away the most pervasive threat to terrestrial animal species, impacting 86 percent of all mammals, 88 percent of amphibians, and 86 percent of all birds.

One in every eight birds, one in every three amphibians, and one in every four mammals is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future.

The Alliance for Global Conservation estimates 36 percent of all species on our planet are in danger of extinction. And what are the major species protection organizations recommending? wildlife rehabilitation and conservation, fighting poaching, and breeding programs. Way to throw a bandaid on an open artery. I’m sure it will hold.


Issue seven: habitat destruction, land usage & deforestation

A third of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading cause. [11][68][69][70][71][72]

Nearly half of the contiguous united states is devoted to animal agriculture. [74][75][76]

1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food and only 375 pounds of meat. [11][80][81][82]

The land required to feed 1 vegan for 1 year is 1/6th acre. It’s 3 times as much for a vegetarian and 18 times as much for a meat-eater. [80][83] [tweet this]

You can grow 15 times more protein on any given area of land with plants versus animals. [86] [tweet this]

136 million rainforest acres have been cleared for animal agriculture with 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second. [89][90][13][14]

In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91 percent of Amazon Rainforest destruction. [11] [12]

A single quarter-pounder burger takes 55 square feet of rainforest to produce. [93][94]

But what do the major rainforest protection agencies focus on primarily? Palm oil and pulp production.


Now for the too long didn’t watch/read version:

Animal agriculture is:

  • The leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming,[3]
  • Uses a third of the earth’s fresh water, [9]
  • Up to 45 percent of the earth’s land, [10]
  • Is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon Rainforest destruction [12] with 1-2 acres being cleared every second,
  • And is a leading cause of species extinction [8][28][26][24][19], ocean dead zones [30][20][21][18][27][22][29],
  • And habitat destruction [26][24][18].

Environmental agencies not only do not focus on animal agriculture, the absolute most devastating and pervasive single cause of multi-dimensional environmental destruction, but they actually refuse to even acknowledge it.

And individual environmentalists, by and large, perhaps as a consequence or by their own social indoctrination, aren’t even aware of this issue despite devoting themselves to championing the environment.


For the wrap up:

The actual problem is animal agriculture and the actual solution is a vegan diet.

A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50 percent less carbon dioxide,

Uses 1/11th the oil,

1/13th the water, and

1/18th the land

compared to a meat-lover for their food [55][59][60][61][62][63], and every day saves:

  • 1,100 gallons of water,
  • 45 pounds of grain,
  • 30 square ft of forested land,
  • 20 pounds carbon dioxide equivalent, and
  • one animal’s life. [36][11][54][55][35]

Given all of these facts, it’s abundantly clear that veganism is the only answer to the environmental crisis and the environmental organizations collective failure to recognize this fact leave them with a wrongness tally total of: 13766

qualifying them for an ultimate score of:

more full of fecal matter than the 7 million tons produced every second by farm animals in the united states.

It’s time to get real. You cannot be an environmentalist and a non-vegan. It’s now beyond personal choice and allowing everyone their dietary preference. The earth cannot sustain the way we eat. This is a fact and it’s fast approaching critical mass. At this point, their is no reason to keep eating animals other than the purely selfish reason of not wanting to change our habits.

If we want our children to have a world to live on, we have to stop being so childish ourselves regarding our diets and cut out the crap.

I hope you enjoyed this fact-riddled nugget. Please share it around to wake people up to the importance of this issue and feel free to tag any of the major environmental agencies when you share!

The time it took to produce this video clocks in at about 68 hours. If you’d like to help support bite size vegan so I can keep putting in the long hours to bring you this educational resources, please check out the support page in the video description below where you can give a one-time donation or receive perk and rewards for your support by joining the Nugget Army.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments!

See ya next nugget!


[1]Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment. [Original Link no longer active. Similar post active here]

[2] Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.

[3]Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?” WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

[4] Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions by Drew T. Shindell*, Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch, Gavin A. Schmidt, Nadine Unger, Susanne E. Bauer

[6] Dr. Kirk R. Smith, MPH, PhD, Professor of Global Environmental Health at UC Berkley, as quoted in Cowspiracy documentary

[7] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” Working Group I.


[9] Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems

Mario Herreroa,b,1, Petr Havlíkb,c, Hugo Valinc, An Notenbaertb, Mariana C. Rufinob, Philip K. Thorntond, Michael Blümmelb, Franz Weissc, Delia Graceb, and Michael Obersteinerc

[10] Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).

[11] Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

[12] World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon

[13] “Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief.

[14] Facts about the rainforest from SavetheRainforest.org

[15] 2,500 Gallons All Wet by John Robbins, also in his book “Diet for a New America

[16] How Our Food Choices can Help Save the Environment by Steve Boyan, PhD

[17] Average Annual Emissions & Fuel Consumption for Gasoline-Fueled Passenger Cars and Light Trucks by the EPA

[18]  Comfortably Unaware by Richard Oppenheimer

[19] The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The Causes of Extinction“. 

[20] NOAA, “What is a dead zone“.

[21] Scientific America, “What Causes Ocean “Dead Zones“?”.

[22] “What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

[23]The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The Causes of Extinction“.

[24] Annenberg Learner, Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline // Section 7: Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences

[25] WWF, “Losing their homes because of the growing needs of humans.

[26] Center for Biological Diversity, “How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet“.

[27] “Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th.” Worldwatch Institute.

[28] Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012

[29] “Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

[30] Osterman, L.E., Poore, R.Z., Swarzenski, P.W., 2008, Gulf of Mexico dead zone–1000 year record: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1099,

[31] Water Sense by the EPA

[32] Oxford Journals. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues

[33] The World’s Water. “Water Content of Things

[34] Journal of Animal Science. “Estimation of the water requirement for beef production in the United States.

[35] “Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

[36] “Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

[37] Water Footprint Network, “Product Water Footprints“.

[38] Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

[39] A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products by Mesfin M. Mekonnen* and Arjen Y. Hoekstra [states 1/5 of global water]

[40] The water footprint of poultry, pork and beef: A comparative study in different countries and production systems by P.W. Gerbens-Leenes, , M.M. Mekonnen , A.Y. Hoekstra [States 27%-30%+ of global water consummation is for animal agriculture]

[41] Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems by Mario Herreroa,b,1, Petr Havlíkb,c, Hugo Valinc, An Notenbaertb, Mariana C. Rufinob, Philip K. Thorntond, Michael Blümmelb, Franz Weissc, Delia Graceb, and Michael Obersteinerc [States 1/3 of global fresh water consumed is for animal ag.]

[42] “Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?” Forks Over Knives.

[43] It Takes HOW Much Water to Make Greek Yogurt?! Dairy products require a whole lot of water—and many of them come from drought-ridden California. By Julia Lurie and Alex Park in Mother Jones but with academic citations

[44] “Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources.” EPA Office of Research and Development. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011.

[45] Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural And Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909-18.

[46] Barber, N.L., “Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3098.

[47] “Overfishing: A Threat to Marine Biodiversity.” UN News Center.

[48] “General Situation of World Fish Stocks.” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

[49] Science, “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services“.

[50] “World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

[51] “Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO).

[52] Infographic: How Much it Would Cost for the Entire Planet to Switch to Renewable Energy by Elliot Chang

[53] The Cost of Going Green Globally by Anne Perkins

[54] “Measuring the daily destruction of the world’s rainforests.” Scientific American, 2009.

[55] “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

[56] Press Release, Climate Summit 2014.

[57] Vaclav Smil, Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact, Population and Development Review 37(4): 613-36, December 2011. The proportions are of mass measures in dry weight.

[58] Dr. Will Tuttle as quoted in the Cowspiracy documentary

[59] CO2:  The Carbon Footprint of 5 Diets Compared.” Shrink The Footprint.

[60] Oil, water: “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.

[61] One Green Planet, “Meat The Truth“.

[62] Robbins, John. “Food Revolution“. Conari Press, 2001 [Quoted Here]

[63] “Our food our future.” Earthsave.

[64] Oceana Living Blue Suggestions


[66] “How To Manage Manure.” Healthy Landscapes.

[67]“FY-2005 Annual Report Manure and Byproduct Utilization National Program 206.

USDA Agricultural Research Service. 2008.

[68] “UN launches international year of deserts and desertification.” UN news centre, 2006.

[69] UWC, “Desertification“.

[70] The Encyclopedia of Earth, “Overgrazing“.

[71] UN, “Desertification, Drought Affect One Third of Planet, World’s Poorest People, Second Committee Told as It Continues Debate on Sustainable Development“.

[72] Free From Harm article that explains desertification and livestock’s role

[73] “Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands” the Center for Biological Diversity

[74] U.S. extrapolated data from EPA, Land Uses.

[75] Versterby, Marlow; Krupa, Kenneth. “Major uses of land in the United States.” Updated 2012. USDA Economic Research Service.

[76] USDA, Major Uses of Land in the United States, 1997.

[77] “Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns.” UN News Centre, 2006.

[78] Niles Eldredge, “The Sixth Extinction

[79] Mass extinction of species has begun. Referencing speech by environmentalist Professor Norman Myers

[80] Direct Seeded Vegetable Crops, Johnny Seeds.

[81] USDA NASS, “One Acre of Washington’s farmers land

[82] Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2012.

[83] Diet for a New America” by John Robbins

[84] “Our food our future.” Earthsave.

[85] PNAS. Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States

[86] “Soy Benefits”. National Soybean Research Laboratory.

[87] “Rainforest statistics and facts.” Save the amazon.

[88] Monga Bay, “What is Deforestation?

[89] “Amazon Destruction.” Monga Bay.

[90] 214,000 square miles occupied by cattle (136 million acres)

[91] Rainforest facts.

[92] World Resources Institute, “Keeping Options Alive.”

[93] EarthSave Infographic

[94] How Cows Kill Rainforests: The Flip-Side of an All-Beef Patty

[95] Cowspiracy the documentary

[96] Eating Vegan On $4 A Day

[97] Profiling Food Consumption in America USDA Agriculture Factbook

Errors Found Thus Far:

1] At 2:10 I say the incorrect “metric tons” instead of “million tons.”  “Million tons” is correct and was caught in editing and displayed properly onscreen.

2] At 2:26 I say the incorrect “32,654” instead of “32,564.”  “32,564” is correct and was caught in editing and displayed properly onscreen.

1] At 7:43 I say the correct “486” but “466” is displayed onscreen.  486 is correct and an annotation was added to the video [only visible on computer viewing]

2] At 10:23 in the video, I say the correct “37,000” but “37,0000” is displayed onscreen.  37,000 is obviously correct and an annotation was added to the video [only visible on computer viewing]

3] At 10:32 in the video, I say the correct “1/6th Acre” but “1/16th Acre” is displayed onscreen.  1/6th Acre is correct and an annotation was added to the video [only visible on computer viewing]


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